Where do US firm land in Europe?

UK and Ireland first, then other Western European Countries (Continental)

US Firms expansion in Europe

The Destinations

The US companies expand in Europe as the first oversea destination

  • 75 % of top-tier companies chose London, Dublin, or Amsterdam as their first landing spot. The choice is driven by the feeling of an easier communication pattern.
  • 63 % of US B2B Software companies opened their first office in the UK. Among those 63 %, 60 % choose London. Cambridge, Belfast, and Manchester arrived as the second choice.
  • 10 % chose Ireland, mainly Dublin. 6 % went to Amsterdam. Paris and Berlin were selected by only 3 % as the first offices open in Europe.

Who are the companies opening an office in Europe?

Pharmaceutics, Software products, SaaS companies and Finance are leading the move to Europe.

How are the European Countries selected

Finance and Cultural assets rank at the top of selection criteria.

Language and cultural proximity are the first selection criteria.

The popularity of Amsterdam and Dublin is related to the low corporate tax advantages offered by the 2 cities.

Although Paris, Berlin, or Madrid may offer great infrastructure and business environments, they are often chosen as a landing base for the 2nd or 3rd office only. Once companies got successful in establishing their first office, they see it as an opportunity to get closer to their larger customers.

On average, they have opened their first office within 6 to 8 years following their funding.

What are the key drivers ?

  • In 60 % of the cases, the opening is related to the aim of pursuing a sales and revenue growth opportunity. On average, the European market represents 30 % of their global revenue. US companies are considering the 740 million people market and a GDP higher than in the US for this region. The European market is the largest overseas software market and a considerable growth lever.
  • In 40 % of the cases, the set-up of European operations is motivated by the building of R&D or Product development teams. The cost of engineer teams and the high level of expertise make European destinations increasingly attractive. This move has been accelerated by the increasing cost of engineers in Silicon Valley.


What percentage of the workforce in each respective European location?

US offices location in Europe

There we have quite a different picture. We see that the 2nd choice locations is growing more rapidly than the 1st office.

Sectorial Considerations for US Companies in Selecting Target Markets and European Headquarters


US technology companies have often chosen locations such as Dublin, London, Berlin, and Amsterdam for their European headquarters. These cities offer access to a skilled tech workforce, vibrant startup ecosystems, and proximity to other European markets.


London has traditionally been a major financial hub and has attracted many US financial institutions for their European operations. However, with the UK’s exit from the European Union, some companies have shifted their focus to other financial centers like Frankfurt, Paris, and Dublin.

Pharmaceuticals and Life Sciences

Ireland, particularly Dublin, has become a significant hub for pharmaceutical and life sciences companies. The country’s favorable tax environment, strong research capabilities, and access to the European market have made it an attractive location for US companies in this sector.


Germany has been a popular choice for US manufacturing companies expanding into Europe. The country’s strong industrial base, skilled workforce, and central location within Europe have made it an ideal location for manufacturing and logistics operations.

E-commerce and Retail

Cities like London, Berlin, and Amsterdam have seen significant investment from US e-commerce and retail companies. These locations offer access to large consumer markets, well-developed logistics networks, and a tech-savvy population.

How to set up a Business in Europe

We’ve designed a comprehensive guide to help you make informed choices and navigate the intricacies of establishing your business in Europe:

Please read : Setting up a Business in Europe

Best cities to Set Up a Business in Europe

For tech startups and innovation-driven companies, cities like London, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Dublin continue to lead the way with thriving ecosystems, access to venture capital, and a pool of tech talent.

If you’re in the finance sector, Zurich, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam are renowned for their robust banking industries, stability, and status as European financial hubs.

For cutting-edge medical research and HealthTech, consider Cambridge in the UK, which hosts renowned research institutions, and Stockholm with its strong focus on life sciences.

The Telecom Industry thrives in cities like Helsinki, known for its tech innovation, and Barcelona, a hub for mobile technology.

The Automotive and Battery Industry is prominent in regions like Stuttgart, Germany, and Gothenburg, Sweden, both known for their automotive excellence and research in electric vehicle technologies.

For luxury industries like fashion and design, Paris and Milan are undisputed leaders, with established fashion houses and a legacy of craftsmanship.

Media and entertainment companies can find a welcoming environment in cities such as London, Berlin, and Dublin, which offer a blend of creativity, access to talent, and media infrastructure.

These European cities and regions offer not only a conducive business environment but also access to critical infrastructure, research centers, and competitive advantages in their respective industries. Whether you’re in finance, technology, healthcare, automotive, luxury, or media, Europe has a diverse array of locations to suit your business needs.

France : New Technology and Start-up Destination

France’s strategic location within Europe and its large consumer market, have contributed to its emergence as a hub for technology investments, R&D, and start-ups. The country’s commitment to fostering innovation, supportive policies, and a thriving ecosystem make it an attractive destination for technology companies looking to establish a presence in Europe.

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Infrastructure, Regulations and Incentives

  1. Government Initiatives: The French government has implemented various initiatives to foster technological innovation and attract investments. One notable program is “La French Tech,” a national initiative launched in 2013 to support and promote French start-ups. It provides funding, mentorship, and networking opportunities for entrepreneurs, helping to create a vibrant start-up ecosystem.
  2. Strong R&D Infrastructure: France boasts a robust research and development infrastructure, with renowned universities, research institutions, and technology clusters. Institutions like the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) contribute to cutting-edge research and technological advancements.
  3. Skilled Workforce: France has a highly skilled workforce, particularly in the fields of engineering, computer science, and mathematics. The country’s strong education system produces a talent pool that is attractive to technology companies. Additionally, France has been actively working to attract international talent through initiatives like the French Tech Visa, which simplifies the visa process for foreign entrepreneurs and employees.
  4. Supportive Regulatory Environment: France has implemented policies and regulations to support technology investments and start-ups. Measures such as simplified administrative procedures, tax incentives, and research tax credits encourage innovation and entrepreneurship. The “French Tech Visa for Employees” program facilitates the recruitment of foreign talent by offering fast-track visa procedures.

Environment, Digital and Funding

  1. Incubators and Accelerators: France has a growing number of incubators and accelerators that provide support, mentorship, and resources to start-ups. These organizations, such as Station F in Paris, offer co-working spaces, networking opportunities, and access to funding, helping start-ups thrive and grow.
  2. Funding Opportunities: France has seen an increase in venture capital investments and funding opportunities for technology start-ups. The French government, along with private investors and venture capital firms, has been actively investing in promising technology companies. Additionally, initiatives like Bpifrance, a public investment bank, provide funding and support to innovative businesses.
  3. Strong Digital Infrastructure: France has made significant investments in digital infrastructure, including high-speed internet connectivity and data centers. This infrastructure supports the growth of technology companies and enables them to leverage emerging technologies such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things.

How to set up a Business in France

We’ve designed a comprehensive guide to help you make informed choices and navigate the intricacies of establishing your business in France :

Please read : Setting up a Business in France

Setting up an Office or Subsidiary

  • Although London is the first office location voted by 60% of US firms, it hardly counts 33 % of the total workforce. This remains the highest rate compared to other locations.
  • Ireland is the home of inside sales teams, and it counts 19% of the total workforce, whereas 10% of US firms choose the country as the first office location.
  • Destinations like France and Germany, with a rather small number of 1st office openings, have 8 % of the total workforce in each location.
  • Paris concentrates most of the workforce in the country. In Germany, the workforce is equally divided into Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, and Munich.
  • In the Netherlands, the workforce is divided between Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

 →Our solution To set up an representative or liaison office in France – 

Our advice To set up a branch or Subsidiary in France 

What Management Profile hired?

33% of the first hires concern General Managers. 32 % concern Senior Sales Executives

Within the hired General Manager, 30 % had previous experience as General Manager whereas 70 % are new to the role.


Brexit Impact?

One might wonder how Brexit is impacting the choice of US firms when opening their first office in Europe. Well, new office openings in Europe dropped by about 60 % in 2020, partly explained by the pandemic.

Surprisingly, it does not seem to affect UK and London on a larger scale than other countries. It becomes obvious that most US company CEOs do not have a clear picture of the meaning and consequences of Brexit behind the fancy term. One exception may concern Fintech, as it is commonly publicized.

At the same time, existing European operations of US firms continue to hire at a high pace.


About the survey

This is the result of a survey  carried out by Frontline Ventures (main report:  https://www.frontline.vc/expanding-to-europe/ ) among the top 175 US companies with a high profile in the B2B Software industry. Under review Zoom, Slack, Dropbox, Zendesk, Elasticsearch, Apptus, Dashlane, Hubspot, Docusign, Twilio, Apnexus, Cloudfare, Dropbox … just to name a few of them. We consider an office because it has at least 5 employees. This survey was conducted on companies that have been established in Europe in the last 15 years.

Top 175 US software Firms


About US trade policies, you can consult the ITA ( US International Trade Administration)

When it comes to international expansion, a wrong choice can be very costly. We will give you our advices on Going Global

Leading destination for Foreign Investments

Since 2019, France has been the leading destination in Europe for foreign investments. Why do foreign company choose France? Our review of attractiveness, investments by sectors and breakdown of investing countries for your guidance.

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About Emmanuel Facovi the Founder and Managing Partner

Emmanuel Facovi - Managing PartnerAs former CEO / senior executive (Nokia, Coface, FCI,  Kompass, Schneider, Areva…) his expertise consists in leading tech companies (SaaS, marketplaces, Techs) with ambitious growth objectives in fast-changing environments.
He is a cross-cultural high technology executive passionate about new technology, innovation, disruptive models, and above all, scaling up, your business globally. One of the most renowned Experts in Data, Marketing Strategies of Tech and Digital Industries,
As an« all-rounder» entrepreneur with a proven track record of building high-performing teams, he has a wide skill set ranging from Strategy and International Sales performance, also encompassing Finance, Marketing/advertising and legal/HR/culture.
He is an enthusiastic leader, keen on making sure that the office develops every day into an even “Greater Place to work”, gathering professionals of diverse talents who succeed together with a common vision in mind.